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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

December 1 to December 9, 2022

Lake Erie Tributaries & Harbors

Tributary anglers continue to report solid steelhead action, with all streams fishing well when levels are not too high. There are many big steelhead around in the 26-30-inch, 8-10-pound range. Following a rain storm all creeks came up and peaked on Wednesday. The Chautauqua County stream levels are falling back fast today and some may be a fishable option by Friday. The Erie County streams may take a few days without any additional rain to settle out. Cattaraugus Creek likely won't be an option for some time. Keep an eye on the USGS Water Data for New York pages when planning your outing. In colder water, techniques such as swinging flies and casting lures become less effective as steelhead are more lethargic and not willing to move as much to take the "bait". Drifting techniques with egg sacs, trout beads, egg flies, nymphs, stonefly patterns, buggers and jigs fished near the bottom is a dependable approach during the colder months. For those new to steelhead fishing see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.

Cattaraugus Creek Lake Trout

For anglers fishing Cattaraugus Creek, the DEC is interested to know if you catch a lake trout. Several experimental stockings of lake trout have occurred in recent years and biologists need to know if any of these fish are returning to the stream. Please take a photo of any caught lake trout and contact Jim Markham at the Lake Erie Fisheries Unit at 716-366-0228.

Niagara River

Windy and turbid conditions have made for tough fishing in the upper river lately. Fortunately, anglers now have through December 15th to target musky on the upper Niagara River and Lake Erie (season previously ended on November 30th). Target musky by casting large stickbaits or by drifting and jigging large tube jigs (8"-10"). Trolling around the outer Buffalo Harbor breakwall gaps can produce a musky catch as well.

Lower Niagara river water conditions and fishing quality were good to start the week. However, river waters were stained following Wednesday's high winds. Lake trout season is now officially open as of December 1st. There are lots of lake trout and brown trout scattered throughout the river and on the Niagara Bar. Steelhead catch numbers are modest but steadily improving in the upper drifts. The most productive drifts, such as Artpark and Fort Niagara have been very crowded at times. But with the plentiful mix of trout in the river, any of the other drifts can be productive too. Boaters can target trout by controlled drifting with a three-way rig and egg sacs, trout beads, live shiners or Kwikfish-style lures. Good trout offerings for shore anglers include egg sacs, trout beads, egg flies, shiners or jigs fished under a float, and casted spoons and spinners. Muskellunge season extends to December 15th on the lower river. The NYPA fishing platform and other fishing facilities are closed as of November 15th for the winter season. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see Fishing the Lower Niagara River.

Lake Ontario, Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

Fishing on the Lake Ontario tributaries has been slower to decent lately. Catches have primarily been of brown trout with the occasional steelhead mixed in. Most activity has been on the creeks receiving supplemental flows from Erie Canal, including Eighteenmile, Oak Orchard, Johnson and Sandy Creeks. Those creeks' levels came up overnight and were at higher flow levels at report time. Twelvemile Creek system now has a trickle base flow and may be worth a look following any good slug of rain. For those new to tributary fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries page for more information.

NYS Canal Corporation Fall Fishing Program: For an enhanced angling experience and a longer season of sustained flows this fall, the New York State Canal Corporation will soon commence supplemental water releases from the Erie Canal into Lake Ontario tributaries in western New York. Eighteenmile, Oak Orchard and Sandy Creeks are scheduled to receive increased flow releases from September 15 through December 15, and Johnson Creek to receive increased flow releases from October 13 through December 15. For more information and water release schedule visit NYS Canal Corporation Website (leaves DEC website). Releases are subject to change, so check back for updates.

Chautauqua Lake

Muskellunge season is closed as of December 1st. During the transition period between open water and ice season, there is typically not much fishing activity. Walleye may be available near shorelines at night. Vertical jigging around the deeper holes in north basin for walleye is also worth a shot during the day. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Surplus Broodstock Trout Stocking

DEC Randolph Fish Hatchery conducted their annual broodstock trout stocking in select western New York waters between October 3rd and November 2nd. All broodstock trout are over 2 years old and range between 12 and 28 inches long.

Quaker Lake received 350 brown trout (12"-26") and 330 rainbow trout (12"-28").
Red House Lake received 250 brown trout (12"-18").
Lake Flavia received 250 brook trout (12"-18"), 100 brown trout (18"-26") and 50 rainbow trout (24").
Genesee River received 475 brown trout (20"-24") and 420 rainbow trout (24"-28") between Belmont Dam and PA line.
Cattaraugus Creek received 500 brown trout (12"-18").
Case Lake received 400 brook trout (12"-18"), 150 brown trout (12"-24") and 50 rainbow trout (13").
Allen Lake received 300 brook trout (12"-18") and 50 rainbow trout (12").
Harwood Lake received 150 brook trout (12"-18") and 60 brown trout (26").
New Albion Lake received 350 brook trout (12"-18") and 450 brown trout (12"-24").

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!